What Sign Is The Punctuation Hero?

The Puncutation Warrior - correcting punctuation on street sign

“…After enduring sloppy punctuation on the street sign outside his home for more than a year, Stefan Gatward could stand it no longer. The 62-year-old former soldier decided to launch a one-man crusade against ‘dumbed down’ Britain, and picked up a paintbrush to insert a missing apostrophe. This turned the incorrect St Johns Close into the correct St John’s Close.

“…But he was immediately accused of being a vandal by one neighbour, and his amendments have been scratched off by others who apparently prefer the wrong version. The 62-year-old’s defence of the apostrophe comes after Birmingham council announced it would scrap the punctuation from council signs for the sake of ‘simplicity’. Mr Gatward, who served for four years in the Gordon Highlanders in the 1960s, is not just a campaigner for the apostrophe.

He will not join the ‘five items or less’ queue at the supermarket, in protest that the sign should read ‘five items or fewer’. He also gets annoyed when people-neglect the ‘Royal’ in ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’, and was vexed when he saw a major chain store advertising sales with signs saying ‘until stocks last’ rather than ‘while stocks last’.

‘I fought for the preservation of our heritage and our language but some people seem happy to let that go. I’m not,’ he said. ‘I feel very strongly about the English language. These days people write in text-speak and nobody knows how to use the apostrophe.’…” More in the Daily Mail here

Apparently peeps are up in arms about his vandalizing of the street signs etc yet he IS in the right. Obviously one thinks Virgo to the max but his eyes look sort of Ariean and that fits his combative spirit.  I actually have the Pluto Rising Piscean Druid in England attempting to find out Mr Gatward’s sun sign. But as he works as an accountant for the Catholic Church, that could be tricky. I thought also Taurus but i doubt a Taurus would actually deface council  property, even if he were in fact correct.

Imagine being his Missus. He’d correct you. “No I think what you mean is ‘whom giveth a shit'”

71 thoughts on “What Sign Is The Punctuation Hero?

  1. gotta be an aries. I worked with a Aries female boss who was a punctuation freak. Didn’t just correct your typo’s but made sure you knew it and learnt it and quizzed you on it and aaaaaaaaagh get a life!!

  2. This guy is my hero (despite being a Catholic soldier).
    I am obsessed with grammar and punctuation and easily irritated by the lack of it. I make my son text me in the Queen’s english, must to his disgust. He looks as me witheringly as I start to explain why numbers are not part of the alphabet and therefore not useful when spelling… and generally respons with “lol”. He too is Aquarian (born on my birthday!).
    Could it have to do with Mercury (as with the swearing earlier today) as it relates to communication?

  3. I’m with this guy, even if he does live in Tunbridge Wells. The decision by Birmingham City Council was breathtakingly illogical. Simple for who? There are kids leaving primary school unable to read or write, and undergraduates unable to string a coherent sentence together, let alone a gramatical one. So now, instead of receiving subliminal help from correct road signs, they see dross and think it is correct. Not every grammatical rule needs saving, but when it comes down to clear and precise meaning, grammar is important.

    My faves locally are:
    Tea’s and Coffee’s
    Potatoe’s
    Sandwiche’s

    All bona fide signs in a local town.

    All I can find out about Mr Gatward is that he won the Weakest Link in 06 and goes on pilgrimage walks around the UK. I know quite a few aquas who would do the same as him.

  4. Instinct goes with strong Virgo. I too hate the grammatical/spelling slackness – shite just saying that is vile – my Cap Sun/ Fish Asc/ Gem Moon sis-in-law barrister cum senior policy advisor for govt can’t write correctly to save her life. For example she wrote a letter of reference in 2007 for my daughter to get into exclusive middle school based partly on her Catholic Mercy connections which sister-in-laws had as well as other factors – had to edit edit edit – totally shocked at her grammar and punctuation, let alone sentence/para construction. Now I’m not saying i’m an expert at all, far from it, but if she’s writing policy then well ….. Ditto Aries galfriend who has tragic spelling and grammar and is Principal Policy Officer with the EPA!! Maybe they have highly paid good secretaries in the govt. Hope so :-?

  5. Also local city council recently erected a new street sign at far end of street which is at end of hair-pin bend and guess what – they added an extra ‘s’ – so very frustrating – one end singular and the other plural – wtf – yes 3 planets in Virgo incl Merc!

  6. I’m emailing me editing lecturer this article. I think she will be thrilled.

    • Jaysus… just looked back and saw my misuse of ‘me’…which went over and over and over today.

      • CRAP! Still doing it.

        Maybe the recent, carb loading and red wine are not conducive to clear english.

        • LL – dark moon in Leo my darling fellow Leo gal. Who gives a shite – yes to carb loading and wine (white in my case). Time to chill, and forgive yourself methinks ;-)

          • hot bath time FF…I decluttered very little this turn of the dark moon…maybe tomorrow. I’m sleeping well though. All this internal processing wipes a woman out a tad. Are you feeling any better?

  7. Hooray for Stefan! I hope he keeps up his good work, whatever sign he is. I know languages are always changing and evolving but I think its nice to honour them. My, what a neatly painted apostrophe! Gemini for language & handicraft? Doesn’t fit for attention to detail though does it.

    • I’ll third… a friend of mine is a writer and whenever i try to read anything he’s working on i’m always being put off by all of the spelling and grammatical mistakes. I offer to fix it up for him but being a Cancerian he gets all touchy about it.

  8. Oh my goodness, he would have to be a Pisces Sun, Aries Moon, Mercury Aquarius, Leo Rising.
    Because this is what I would be doing if I were an old British Catholic bloke.

  9. A better question is what are the signs of the arseholes who called him a vandal? Jealous turds.

    I reckon Taurus with Virgo rising. I like him. I might send him a tin of biscuits or a fruit basket or something.

  10. Heavy Virgo. I know someone with Mercury conjunct Pluto in Virgo who would do this. He once peeled off an extra apostrophe off a shop window display right under the gaze of the security guard. Vandalism was justified on the grounds of good grammer.

    He’s a real fan of this site: http://www.apostropheabuse.com/

  11. He can definitely join me and all my scorpio friends in loving the correct use of the apostrophe! Not to mention correct use of the possessive…

    Birthday card of the moment:
    Girl 1: So, where’s your party at?
    Girl 2: Don’t finish a sentence with a preposition.
    Girl 1: So, where’s your party at, bitch?

    oh, we laughed…

  12. There is a sign up the road from where I live, that sends the highly literate fashionable bull spare. I tend to agree…or maybe my Taurus rising and the three planets in Virgo do. It advertises ‘Baged Wood’, and sets me into a frenzy of ninja grammar correction planning.

    Eldest daughter, Spazzy A also has a moon in Taurus so she understands…to a point. She does point out that it is a unique selling point that has obviously grabbed our attention, and could be a clever marketing ploy from that particular wood chopping dairy farmer.

    It’s been discussed at length whether it really is worth it to ponce about at midnight and insert a g. Alternately would it be better to just blank slate it and space the letters for easy reading. The discussion degenerates at this point into inarticulate mutterings.

    Apostrophe misuse seems quite simple at this point. Good on Mr Gatward for actually acting though.

    • Makes me think of the emergency exit door at the local pool “this door is alarmed”. I always mutter, “by what” as I go past.

  13. Sooooooo Virgo. Sooooooo me.

    I used to do this – would carry white out pen and a black texta around and go mad correcting signage around town after a few jars at the local.

    One time my antics got back to me by way of a workmate who had heard about ‘this girl who used to go around town fixing punctuation’. Turns out it was me. So proud.

    (forgive my tag of laziness – have been meaning to apply myself to something clever and illuminating in order to post more regular-like, but I COULD NOT resist posting on this one, STAT! Suggestions welcome :-)

  14. I think a naughty gemini sun, with cap rising. He is covering his coyote like intellect with a veneer of saturn. The woman who called him a vandal was right and she is the aries or sag.
    Its taken him a long time to find his true calling, I say let him carry on…his malady is causing very little damage, if its taken him 12 months to place one apostrophe.

    • Hun – no!
      This is the weakness of Aries – you’ve got guts but you ignore covert threats. This guy is organised, there is more than one apostophe replacement, he has got some media and he has a point.
      WHAT is the Latin for apostrophe? Why do we even have them? This whole thing goes SO deeper!

      • Totally agree, Mystic. I am an Aries and I love my punctuation. Love that man’s work.

  15. can’t decide – are you Libran??
    ms couldn’t decide mon Blog I.D, so is coined ala Mystalicious!!

    the guy above – Virgo sun, Bull riser?
    yep to the OCD also

    am partially dyslexic & STILL can’t spell!!
    didn’t prevent me from getting 98 in English finals or a career as a professional writer, go figure. now computers help highlighting mistakes & the fab dictionary / thesaurus Widgets on Mac dashboard are heaven! tho I balk at new gen TXT SPK – more dumbing down language. send the guy above in to sort it out. should keep him busy ;-)

  16. i like how nearly everyone who has sided with Stefan about grammar and spelling has actually mis-spelled or mis-typed at least one word in their post! and i noticed because i am virgo sun with mercury in gemini.

    but i also feel its sort of demeaning and unkind to pick people up on their spelling mistakes and such!

    surely what counts is the meaning. substance over style. ye literary folks of old would have drawn and quartered James Joyce for his butchery of grammar but now of course his books are `classics`.

    • Unlikely re JJ. Shakespeare spelled as he felt fit. Johnson was one of the first to start codifying English in any formal sense. Before that it was free and easy – hence the myriad problems translating Chaucer!

  17. his eyes and passion for being correct about things remind me about this cancerian i once knew. perhaps he has a virgo rising and a leo in somewhere there too to push his beliefs; enforce the rules so that new england doesnt forget old england.

  18. I’m surprised no one’s voted for a Capricorn influence (‘cept David there claiming the Saturnian fleece for this word wolf). So I’m throwing in a vote for Merc in Cap. Honor thy tradition, history, forms, etc. Or Cap rising, as DL offered.

    Clearly there’s a love of logic, order, and form here, not just for form’s sake but as hedge against ugly chaos. Earth in action.

  19. OH MY GOD! This guy is a male version of me!

    I don’t know why I’m so anal about correct punctuation/spelling/grammar.

    Oh wait, yes I do. I was raised by a mother who corrected my English every time I pronounced something incorrectly. But astrologically-speaking, there’s nothing in my chart that suggests my Nazi-like behaviour when it comes to proper English.

    The one that shits me most often is: YOUR being used instead of YOU’RE.
    Particularly in text messages. *screams with fury*

    Sorry Mystic! x

    • My Aries Mum does this to me still… corrects my pronunciation. She claims that this is to save me public embarrassment. I’m soooo used to public embarrassment.

      I accept in my personal communications[blog musings, emails et al] that my spelling may occasionally go up the shit. In my professional writing, or in regards to other professional writers work, I am anal hear me roar.

      • LOL @ “public embarrassment”… I can so relate, being an accident-prone Sagg with a serious case of hoof-in-mouth syndrome.

  20. aries w/- virgo rising? aries for the sheer determination and virgo goes well with religious bit.

  21. If he wanted to really get down with it he should have corrected it to “Sinjin” The olde English pronunciation of St. John..

    • It “should” be pronounced sinjun but spelled St John, like Chumley and Cholmondley, or Mannering and Mainwaring. Knowledge of these pronounciations is still used as a barometer of class in some circles. Only the English, eh?!

  22. For sure a virgo or maybe virgo in the 3rd house of communication or mercury?

  23. Indeed Bella, I looked it up. Its spelled Singin and pronounced Sinjun. My bad. Please dont tell Mr Gatward I think he looks slightly scary :)

    • Sorry, wasn’t “correcting” you, just following your thought. I thought Mannering and Mainwaring were completely different names for donkeys years. Sinjun is imprinted on my memory from when Norman St John Stevas was in the UK government. A bit of a stickler for propriety and an ardent royalist, with plummy vowels. It all comes down to the intensive inbreeding amongst aristos, leading them to constrict their words to make them easier to pronounce :)

    • I’d go for this, but there’s some fiery flair in this one and something of an airy sparkle or he’d be some dullard grumblebum prof with method mothball scented air wafting about him.

  24. Dr Doolittle would be suspicious…Mr Gatward wants English to be more perfect than the English, so is he REALLY English???? i don’t think so.

    Did a birth search for U.K. and no records – his two middle names suggest he is perhaps Swiss or Austrian so look there for D.O.B..

    i empathise however with his obsession

    • I reckon he is born in England to Polish parents who fled during the war. He was born just after it, and Stefan is definitely not an English spelling. So I guess you are right about him wanting to be very English – fits with the devout Cathoicism, public school and 4 years in the army.

      He was married on May Day 1982 but can’t find birthdate. Haven’t had time to look, but it may be found in his AAT registration or one of his degree records, esp if he wrote any kind of thesis.

  25. He is a Virgo from Bohemia and he emigrated as it was too slack for him. I reckon he’d go OFF in the sack.

  26. I was NOT going to say Virgo BUT the sudden flashback of how satisfying it was for my Virgo Rising to wield murder via a red pen whilst I corrected what was masquerading as pristine copy and returned it looking like the site of a bloody murder. I DO relish it. And having to do it for professional reasons just tickles me.

    Though I draw the line at actually correcting peeps when they speak unless I am asked – out of a sense of decorum and helping them save face.

    But I go batso when discussions are so imprecise such that there is no one practical direction and all we’ve done for the last hour is emit gas in the form of words. OR someone chooses to be cute and amusing, for instance some idiot trying to flirt going, “so I quote in commas”.

    It’s like, someone give me a 2 by 4 and let me rid the world of this misery.

    Soz. So yeah, Virgo it is.

    • FA well at least you know with lines like that their chances of spawning are slim…unless like attracts like and then…oh I’m sorry I started this particular line of thought.

      • Babe, it’s already happened. Someone added water and they multiplied!

        In commas, of course.

  27. I’m a Cancerian and incorrect spelling/grammar ANNOYS ME so much! Either learn how to write properly or don’t write at all?

  28. In the interests of sharing the pedantic. I just came across something in my editing study notes that suggests that there is a practical reason for not entering apostrophes into street signs.

    Apparently it is to reduce confusion when emergency services are entering info into databases…they are able to more consistently match and retrieve place names without punctuation marks.

    I think I can let go of my um rigid desire for correct punctuation if it gets an Ambo where it’s needed, faster.

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  30. Why does four years in the military define a person, and not the other 58 civilian years of their life?

    Refer also to Elvis Presley’s dodgy manager Major Tom. And the founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. Who gives a fuq if you held a gun once and were hazed in freaky initiations by psychopaths with stripes on their shoulders?

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